Several schools go online after Thanksgiving; others bring students back

A teachers walks down an empty hallway at Oakwood Jr. High School. The school has been using the same plan all year where students attend half-days, five days a week.
A teachers walks down an empty hallway at Oakwood Jr. High School. The school has been using the same plan all year where students attend half-days, five days a week.

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Several local K-12 districts and schools adjusted their in-person education plans Monday as students returned from Thanksgiving break for the final three weeks of 2020 classes amid a COVID-19 surge.

West Carrollton schools, which had been fully online the past few weeks, restarted their hybrid model (two days a week in-person, three days remote) for all schools except the Walter Shade Early Childhood Center, which is in-person four days a week.

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Beavercreek welcomed grades 9-12 back to fully in-person school after an online-only week caused by staff shortages from COVID quarantines.

“If we begin to see cases and/or quarantines climbing quickly with our students and/or staff as a result of our fall break, we will prepare to pivot those impacted buildings to the hybrid or remote model,” Beavercreek Superintendent Paul Otten said in a note to families.

Other districts moved the opposite direction. Kettering schools went back to fully online classes and will stay that way until after Christmas break because of Montgomery County’s “purple” health alert status. New Lebanon schools, which had been fully in-person, went back to a two-days-in, three-days-out hybrid model.

Local public schools offer a fully online option for those families who choose it. Those students have been online since August or early September, without the changes back and forth.

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It was business as usual Monday at Oakwood, which has used the same hybrid model all year for its in-person families. Those students attend school five days a week, split into morning and afternoon groups to allow for better social distancing with fewer students at a time.

Superintendent Kyle Ramey told families Sunday that the school district continues to monitor local COVID trends.

“Although it is getting tougher every day and there are no promises we will be able to continue on this path, we will work to provide face-to-face instruction as long as we can and as safe as we can,” Ramey said, adding that the situation could change quickly.

Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County has recommended that schools go fully remote after the Thanksgiving holiday, but has not issued an order to that effect and continues to provide support for those that stay face-to-face.

The health department’s stay-at-home advisory encourages people to stay at home “to the greatest extent possible,” citing outbreaks in multiple sectors, including K-12 schools. But public health also listed going to work or school as acceptable reasons to leave home.

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A few local districts made smaller changes specifically hoping to avoid COVID issues linked to Thanksgiving gatherings. Springboro and Vandalia-Butler schools are online this Monday and Tuesday, before returning to in-person classes Wednesday. Valley View schools have been in-person four days a week, but are doing remote learning this whole week.

“My sincere hope is that by providing more time for symptoms to develop in people due to (family gatherings), we can drastically limit the exposure to our students and staff to allow in-person instruction to resume safely,” Superintendent Ben Richards told Valley View families.

In Miami County, Troy announced its hybrid plan will last until January, Miami East remained in hybrid mode, and Tipp City schools extended their hybrid plan for grades 6-12 through this week. The rest of Miami County districts are still in-person.

Nearly all northern Warren County schools are also in-person.

Among larger local charter schools, Emerson, Pathway and North Dayton School of Discovery went back to fully remote learning Monday. They hope to restart their hybrid models the second week of January. Dayton Leadership Academies and Imagine Klepinger went back to fully online classes Monday.

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In a Thanksgiving Day letter, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati said of its Catholic schools, “it is our fervent hope to remain open throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic unless the State of Ohio mandates school closure.”

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